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Review:Secret Santa says:
Ho, ho, ho! It's your secret santa here to spread some Christmas cheer!

I don't think that I've ever read a post-Hogwarts story before that starts immediately after the battle from Ginny's point of view, so I was interested straight away by that set up. For a first chapter (and a first story) you've done incredibly well here - it's a really interesting start, and while it wasn't exactly nice to read about how much pain and grief Ginny is dealing with, I thought you wrote it really well. Your writing style is one of the things that struck me as I read this chapter, because it's very readable and seems polished too. There's a lot of variation in your sentences and word choices which are just little things but make the story so much nicer and more enjoyable to read. This is definitely miles ahead of what my first story was, and if it hadn't been the only thing on your AP I wouldn't have realised it was your first story. So what I'm trying to say with that (in a very long-winded way, apparently) is that you've started brilliantly and your writing here is great.

What you said in your author's note is definitely right - you can't write about Ginny straight after the Battle without including the grief for Fred. I think that Ginny's grief has been captured extremely well here, and it's not an easy thing to do, so well done for that. Grief is such a difficult and complex emotion that it's hard to write about, because the process will never be the same for everybody. I liked the way that you played with that, and showed that all the different Weasleys are dealing with their grief for Fred in different ways. I can definitely imagine Molly trying to mother people even more, as if to compensate for the child that she has lost. I can also see George going one of two ways in his grief - either becoming a lifeless shell, or throwing his efforts into distracting himself from what has happened. Surprisingly, I haven't seen many stories where he does the latter so I really enjoyed reading your interpretation of his grief, and the way that he threw himself into planning the funeral so that he was out of the house and doing something. Even though a funeral is really upsetting, I was glad to see that in your story, Fred had been honoured the way he should have been - the decorations and the mentions of bright clothing really made me smile.

One of my favourite things here was that you included Percy and the way he felt about Fred dying. You managed to sum up my thoughts about that exactly, and I'm really pleased you included him because he's often excluded from stories like this, just because he was estranged from the family before the Battle.

Back to Ginny's grief - not only did you capture it really well, you managed to make me feel it too. That's such a wonderful thing to be able to do with your writing, and although I didn't enjoy feeling so upset and feeling her pain as I read the story, it's a testament to your writing ability. What struck me was the different stages that you managed to include. The build up to the funeral felt a little drawn out at times, but I think that served well to show us how Ginny felt about it, the way that she was dreading having to go. And then her fear when she couldn't cry - about what it could mean, whether it made her a bad person when everyone else in the family is able to shed tears for Fred. Finally, the way that she wasn't able to comfort George, and that she didn't know what to say. It's very believably written, and I think that her breakdown into tears at the end is kind of the culmination of all the different emotions that she's been feeling, and all of the different stresses that she's been put under recently.

There were some really powerful moments in this chapter, too. The part when you said about Fred wanting people to wear whatever they liked to his wedding, and then Ginny remembered that he would never have a wedding - it's the exact same realisation that hits me when I re-read the last book, and I end up sobbing at that as well. Including things like that helped make this chapter much more believable, because those are the realisations when grief hits you the most, I think, and they're the hardest to deal with.

Your attention to detail was amazing, too. I'd never thought about this before really but when Ginny went out to fly on the broom without telling anybody, I wasn't expecting her whole family to be worried. But of course they've spent so long living in fear and suspicion that it must be incredibly hard to forget that mindset and move to one where someone not being in their bed naturally means that something bad has happened to them. It's another aspect to the grief I think, as well, especially as far as Molly's concerned, because she can't bear to lose another child, so not knowing where Ginny is must be absolutely terrifying.

The ending was so sweet! I think it was a great way to end the chapter, and the contrast worked nicely with the rest of the story. The whole chapter has been a tumult of emotion for both the reader and for Ginny, but the reader has a definite advantage - we've known throughout that Harry isn't just there because of Fred's funeral, and that he does care about Ginny and love her. The fact that she was also dealing with that, and her fears about him leaving her, on top of the grief and all the other emotions she's feeling after the Battle must have made things truly awful for her. I loved the chance to see Harry supporting her and being there for her at the end of this chapter, and that Ginny realises now he's going to stick around.

This was a brilliant first chapter, and a very well done!

Merry Christmas!

-Secret Santa

Author's Response: Hello there, Santa! He he he

Thank you so much for all your kind words and praises, it really does mean a lot to me.

As far as capturing the characters and their grief, I really am pleased to hear that you thought that was done well. I really wish I could say that I had meditated for hours over each character to logically determine what each of them would do with their grief… but to be completely honest, it all just somehow came to me… I just knew what each character would do. Now, hopefully that’s a testament to my love for JK’s characters, and not a mark against my logic as a writer… either way, I am glad that it somehow turned out okay.

I am also very glad to hear that you were touched by reading Ginny’s grief over Fred. Obviously, Fred’s death is difficult for all of us to deal with, but it is good to know that I somehow managed to do justice to that grief in my writing, especially as it was from the perspective of a close family member. As sad as it is, I am also glad that the deep sorrow may be felt by those reading about it.

Most of all, I am so glad that the ending came across the right way! It’s so important to me that Harry and Ginny’s relationship is maintained with respect to the way that JK wrote it. This is obviously very difficult, as we got to see so little between them, but I am relieved to hear that it seemed genuine 

I really cannot thank you enough for all of your kind words and helpful comments. Thanks so much for taking the time to give me some feedback! You are an awesome Santa!

I hope you are having an amazing holiday season!

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